The Secret Life of the American Musical

How Broadway Shows Are Built
Narrated by: David Pittu
Length: 11 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (161 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For almost a century, Americans have been losing their hearts and losing their minds in an insatiable love affair with the American musical. It often begins in actors and reaches its passionate zenith when it comes time for love, marriage, and children, who will start the cycle all over again. Americans love musicals. Americans invented musicals. Americans perfected musicals. But what, exactly, is a musical?

In The Secret Life of the American Musical, Jack Viertel takes musicals apart, puts them back together, sings their praises, marvels at their unflagging inventiveness, and occasionally despairs over their more embarrassing shortcomings. In the process, he invites us to fall in love all over again by showing us how musicals happen, what makes them work, how they captivate audiences, and how one landmark show leads to the next - by design or by accident, by emulation or by rebellion - from Oklahoma! to Hamilton and onward.

©2016 Jack Viertel (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An enlightening trip for lovers of musicals." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about The Secret Life of the American Musical

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Great review lacked music

Loved the story and the author but really would have been better with excerpts from the music

4 people found this helpful

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In love with the American Musical

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! This is one of the most engaging and thoughtful audio books I have ever listened to.

What did you like best about this story?

Viertel is an insider whose love of the American musical is exceeded, perhaps, only by his vibrant insights and encyclopedic knowledge. The book is like a musical itself, with the chapters taking us from the overture to the 11 o'clock number--a perfect synchronization of content and form.

What does David Pittu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator channels Viertel's love and enthusiasm for the material and he is clearly familiar enough with the numerous song lyrics quoted in each chapter so that his reading maintains the rhythm and integrity of the lyrics. First rate job.

Any additional comments?

If you love the musical theatre, as I do, listen to this book and will come away loving it even more.

4 people found this helpful

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so good I need to buy the printed book

Where does The Secret Life of the American Musical rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Viertel has written an informed and informative exploration of classic american musicals.

What does David Pittu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Pittu is an an excellent reader.

6 people found this helpful

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ITS BETTER AS AN AUDIO BOOK !

Where does The Secret Life of the American Musical rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

top 15 audio books ever

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love all the voices and hearing the scenes played out

Which character – as performed by David Pittu – was your favorite?

any of hims Mama rose

2 people found this helpful

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An Informative Lecture

An enjoyable informative look at the American Musical, I will use some of the ideas with my own students.

1 person found this helpful

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So detailed

This book is packed with details about what makes a good musical and talks about specific aspects of many of the most famous musicals. Very valuable for anybody aspiring to write a musical. Also will help you appreciate the musicals you have seen or will see.

1 person found this helpful

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Musicals make so much more sense

I've loved musicals almost my entire life. and I studied theatre but that was about plays, and how to construct and perform a play. this really is a look at American musicals. you get all the information of a textbook, but the style and performance make sure to keep thing casual. He goes from Oklahoma to Hamilton and shows how even if musicals are different genres, different musical styles, from different decades, and made for different purposes, they still have the same bones. so insightful and entertaining. I now have a list of shows that I can't wait to see after hearing the method to their madness

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If You Like Broadway Musicals, This Book Is A Must

If you're curious about what makes Broadway Musicals tick, you will find this book absolutely fascinating.
Mr. Viertel uses examples from some of the most successful Broadway shows to illustrate the structure of a musical.
This book is an eye opener for theater lovers.

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If you love musicals and want to dig below the surface...

...this is the book for you. Enjoying American Broadway shows is delightful, but beginning to understand what makes them so enjoyable is even better!

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GREAT book for people writing musicals.

This is a wonderful book that will be informative to anyone that is a Broadway fan. But is especially nice for anyone working in the business, and especially writers. It covers classic musicals, to the newest hits of the late 2010s. What is nice, is it tells why some work, why others don't. What is good, what is bad. What makes something work, and why others fail. It covers the mistakes, and the artistry. That is helpful for writers, and also others in the creation process. If you already study Broadway, it will just confirm what you already know, and might not provide new information, since if you already study, you probably already have an extensive theatre geek background. But it's a terrific reference, and confirmation of what you already know, is still a help, anyway, if you're buying this for reference, or even entertainment. And if you're just a fan or student and new to Broadway, it will fill you in completely. It doesn't really contain gossip, which is good for me, it all more technical and helpful information and stories. Some of it repeats or goes back on itself, but to me, that is okay, because it is a study guide to me. I recommend this book mostly to students, and creators who want a good guide and reference material about the process, successes, and failures, and what makes it all tick or not tick.

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